A WOKING charity has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest honour given to a local voluntary group in the UK and the equivalent of an MBE.

The Lighthouse, from its premises in the town centre and in Barnsbury, hosts a range of community projects to support and encourage those in need, including the Woking Foodbank and the Jigsaw baby bank, as well as offering a clothing bank, debt advice and cooking classes among its many programmes. It has some 300 volunteers.

Rebecca Jespersen, co-founder of The Lighthouse with her husband, Erik, said: “I am delighted that the dedication and generosity of our volunteers has been recognised.

“They have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, remaining on the frontline to support the vulnerable and marginalised. Together they gave over 30,000 hours of their time last year, assisting thousands of local people in need.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service recognises outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, with recipients announced each year on 2 June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Representatives of The Lighthouse will receive the award crystal and certificate from Michael More-Molyneux, Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, this summer.

Two representatives of The Lighthouse will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year with other recipients of this year’s award.

The Lord-Lieutenant said: “The work that these groups do for the benefit of their local community or across this county is quite outstanding. If it were not for the volunteers’ tireless work and commitment, and the dedication to the good of others which they represent, the services they provide would not happen.

“I am delighted that these extraordinary contributions to the welfare of the people of Surrey have been recognised nationally.” 

Cllr Will Forster, deputy leader of Woking Borough Council, added his tribute.

“I’d like to give a huge congratulations to The Lighthouse and their team of dedicated volunteers on receiving this prestigious award. It is truly a testament to the continued dedication in serving the community and going above and beyond for those in need.

“The Lighthouse has touched so many of our hearts here in Woking and is always there to turn to should you need a friendly face. This award is well deserved, and the charity will continue to be an inspiration to many.

“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise and thank volunteers across Woking who continue to excel in so many different ways, devoting time and effort to others. We should all be very proud of the voluntary work taking place on our doorsteps.”

* FOR more information about the charity and its various projects, or to donate, visit www.lighthousewoking.org.